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WCT - The Writing Competition Thread [September Round]


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Okay. My submission:

Barber Shop

He tossed his long, slinky hair to the side with a quick twist of the neck. "I only want about an inch cut off, Jimmy," he said, whilst taking a seat in the barber's chair. Jimmy chuckled and pulled out a razor.

"Only if you can pay for it this time, Ron," the balding man said, still laughing slightly. There always seemed to be some unspoken joke between the two men that neither could really put a finger to.

"Oh, I can. Don't worry about that, old man. I just got my paycheck yesterday, and it was a doozy. I'm tellin' ya. Those annual pay raises sure are nice." He flashed his teeth from under two wet, meaty lips and the old barber couldn't help giggling sheepishly one more time as he pulled out the an attachment for the razor from a small, blue case on the side-table. The tool started buzzing once Jimmy flipped the switch to turn it on, and Ron sat back contentedly in the cushioned seat. The small spinning blades felt soothing on the back of his neck, and the whirring of the object's motor was pleasently hypnotic. Ron smiled and closed his eyes, intent on treasuring the comfort.

That's when it happened.

An enormous crashing sound, an explosion, caused Ron to instantly jerk upwards in his seat. His eyes were wide and searching; his heart beat intensely, and his breath came quick. He looked forward to where the front window of the barber's shop had been blown in. Shards of glass, glittering, littered the floor. No screams for help were heard, nor cries of pain. Ron and Jimmy had been the only ones in the establishment at the time, and... Ron snapped his head back and saw only a quick glimpse of his friend's shoe disappearing around a corner. A much more subtle sound than the one which had preceded it turned Ron's eyes and attention back to the front of the building, to where the window had been destroyed, and from where the glass had been blown in to decorate the rough wooden floor. It was the sound of footsteps, of heavy boots moving slowly, deliberately across the gravel driveway outside. Ron lifted himself out of the barber's chair.

The man that stepped in through the gaping hole in the front of the building was all that Ron could have expected. He was big and burly, his mustaches covered a good third of his face, his eyes were bulging and bloodshot, and the smell of cheap liquor followed him like a shadow. And he carried a double-barreled shotgun over one shoulder, probably the perpetrator of the crime already done here. The big man looked at Ron, weighing him. Once he was sufficiently satisfied he opened his mouth. "Where's Jimmy?" was all the man said, and without waiting for an answer he started walking to the back of the store. He glanced around the corner that the old man had run down and must have found it to his liking, because that was the direction in which he chose to continue his search. His hunt. It wasn't like there were many alternatives, anyway, in the small building.

Ron found himself dazed. He was alone now, with his hair only halfway cut and with far too many questions bouncing around inside his mind. What did this burly man want with his old barber, and why couldn't he have just used the door instead of breaking the glass, and where was Jimmy now, and what had the man done? Ron concluded that he couldn't justifiably leave his friend here, so he hefted himself off the table he had been using as a crutch in the midst of the confusion and walked to the back of the shop. Around the corner was a hallway. Doors to the men and women's restrooms lined the left side of the hall. The right was bare, but at the end was a doorway leading into Jimmy's backyard, to the horse pasture and the pig yard. It wasn't a difficult decision; Ron stepped through the small corridor in a few lengthy strides and emerged into a humid summer day.

Now, Jimmy really was an old man, that wasn't just a nickname. In fact, he was likely pressing the 80 year mark, if Ron's memory wasn't failing him. So, it didn't come as much of a surprise that he found both men outside, not too far from the doorway. Apparently, Jimmy had tried hiding behind several wooden boxes since he knew his lungs would betray him if he tried running, but it hadn't worked. The hulking cubes lay strewn across the dirt, and Jimmy was being held in a deathgrip by the strong man. "Where's the money, Jimmy? Where is it? You know how much the boss hates not getting his money on time, and I know you have it around here somewhere!" Jimmy was writhing in the man's grip, trying to mumble, to beseech of mercy, but it was clear that he was meant to die whether or not he had any money.

All of this Ron noted in only a second. He also noted that neither man had seen him standing there. And that it takes two hands to form a deathgrip, so the deadly shotgun lay innocent and unattended about a foot away from the struggling party. It was clear that someone here would die, if not more than one, so Ron made up his mind in an instant. He crept forward as quickly and discreetly as any overweight, middle-aged man could, and snatched the gun from the dirt. He backed off just as speedily lest he be seen out of the corner of the big man's bloody eyes. It only dawned on him then, as he brought the weapon up slowly to his shoulder and took aim, what he was about to do. He was about to kill a man.

A rasped shriek from Jimmy was all it took to pull Ron back to reality, and he shot the gun instantly. The horrendous bang was met with an equally terrifying explosion of blood and guts that fell on everything in the yard in much the same way the glass had covered the floor of the shop. Ron let the gun drop to the earth, and he wiped the blood spatters from his face with the back of a hand. The big man had fallen on top of Jimmy when he died, and if Ron didn't pull him off quickly, it would be likely that the old man would die anyway from asphyxiation. It took a minute of hellishly tough pushing and shoving, but Ron eventually got the big man off of his friend and onto the ground beside him. "Jimmy, you all right?" Ron asked. No answer. "Jimmy? Come on, old man." No answer. Ron put his ear to the man's mouth and, dissatisfied, started pounding on the man's chest and breathing into his mouth. It was a crude form of CPR, but it was all Ron could think to do. It was to no avail, though. Upon closer inspection, he saw that several of the pellets from the shotgun shell had missed the intended target and had lodged themselves into the skull and chest of his old friend, though whether those had actually killed him or whether it had been the big man's choking exercise, he couldn't say.

Ron got up and walked back inside. After washing himself at the sink set inside the counter, he left through the front door. Hopping inside his truck, Ron tried to think of somewhere else in town he could go get his haircut finished before driving to Mexico to escape the possible charge of double-homicide.

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Here's what I came up with.


It was a beautiful spring day, the kind that seems to just go on forever in a pleasant way. Down the narrow streets and through the open parks a sweet wind was blowing, and across the sky drifted numerous myriad cumulus clouds. A lot of people were out riding their bikes, or tanning in the sun’s temperate heat, or just soaking up the sheer joyousness of the day. Down one of the narrow streets, a man was walking slowly along. He was dressed in a black t-shirt and blue jeans, and the sound of his black boots echoed quietly up and down the sides of the buildings on either side. They kept a decent rhythm as he moved, but he seemed unaware. At first glance, he might have seemed as if he was just another happy tourist in paradise, but for his dark clothing and solemn facial expression. Even as he walked out into an open area, people side stepped him or biked to the other side of the road.

The man, whose name was Lucas, wasn’t thinking about the day around him. And he wasn’t seeing the brief and resentful stares of the others as they passed. His attention was focused entirely on whatever it was that was going on behind his eyes. As he came around a corner and drew nearer to his destination, several others dressed in similar attire began to arrive from other areas of the town. Some were even waiting on the doorstep as Lucas pulled out the key and unlocked the door. Not a word was exchanged between any of them, even as the door closed and they calmly walked down the bare hallway, black attire a sharp contrast to the white walls. Lucas led them to a door on the left of the hallway and let them in, closing the door behind him. Once he ascertained that the door was locked, he turned to the rest of the people gathered and studied them for a second.

There were maybe twelve of them gathered there, some dressed in black, others in a mixture of different colors, but all of them were wearing mostly dark clothing. Suddenly, breaking the solemnity of the situation, Lucas smiled. A little one at first, but soon it became a full grin as seemingly foreign as his attire had appeared outside.

“I can’t believe that we get away with this every week.” He said, taking a seat in the ring of chairs.

“I can’t believe those losers out there actually believe the rumors.” Said a heavily pierced girl to Lucas’ left.

After a brief laugh, one of the others stood up.

“Well, let’s get started then everyone. Rachel, what’s the news for this week?”

“To start out with, we’ve got a new member today. His name is Alex, and he joined on the Friday before last. The 13th.”

Everyone laughed again, and several introductions were briefly made. Rachel waited until the chatter died down.

“We’re getting a little more press coverage lately, and on Tuesday, the newspaper published an article about us. Titled…oh what was it again?”

“‘Something darker this way comes’.” Said Lucas, chuckling.

“Gabe was accused of posting graffiti on the wall of the rail yard on Wednesday. The cop couldn’t find any evidence to link her to it. Nevertheless, she’s been in hiding since then until the statuette runs out tomorrow. Both of the usual groups deny involvement, however we’ll probably know who it was by the end of next week. Neither can resist the chance to brag. Finally, on Saturday we received word about a certain pressing matter which is why we’re here today instead of on Monday. Ree, if you wouldn’t mind?”

“It seems, ladies and gentleman, that we have a plant. A spy in other words. The Smiles knew exactly where to find Brendan on Thursday and he was almost caught. Now, I would like to point out that until now they have worked on the fringes with some of our agents outside this council. It’s only recently that one of them has come into our inner circle. I’m pleased to announce that he is, in fact, here today.”

There was a lot of murmuring between the various members, but not one of them seemed to look nervous about the accusation.

“Our contact within the Punks has informed me that this man was responsible for Michael’s capture, and the erasure of two of their members, three of ours, and sixteen of the Skaters. Obviously these numbers are subjective, being that the Skaters have over three times our membership but any loss is a hard one to bear. No doubt you all remember poor Pepper.”

“Who is it Ree? Yeah, tell us! Let justice be served!” Several members shouted.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let me pose a question. Which day, before any other day, have we chosen as a day of rest?”

“Friday the thirteenth.” Shouted Lucas, standing up and looking over at Alex with unhidden anger.

“Our newest member Alex. An agent of the Smiles and a spy. What should we do with him?”

Before anyone could say anything, the door was suddenly slammed into with quite a bit of force. All of those assembled reacted quickly, dodging through one of several doors scattered throughout the room. The next strike knocked down the door, and through it poured several officers decked out in riot gear. On their jackets was a large smiley face and the words “Have a nice day”. Alex tried to get through one of the doors, but was punched back into the room by Rachel. Two of the officers tried to get through, but found it locked.

“It’s no use men, they're gone. I thought we had those damn Goths this time too.” He said, rubbing his jaw and standing up.

“What are we going to do then Chief? They’re getting wiser to our tactics.”

“We’ll just have to do what we’ve been doing all along. Erase and re-adjust them one by one. Let’s go.”

As the Smiles left, one of the Goths who had remained hidden behind a wall came out into the open and looked around at the scattered chairs and the broken door. Trying the rest of the doors, he found each locked and nodded in satisfaction when he found them so. As he checked the last one, the third from the end opened and a man in a black leather jacket stepped through. His long brown hair was tied back into a ponytail, and he was frowning.

“Taylor. I didn’t think you’d show.”

“I apologize. I had no idea the Smiles would move so fast Elijah, but I wanted to make sure your guys got out alright. Did they?”

“Yeah, everyone is alright. Hey, how’s Robert holding up?”

“As well as can be expected for such a task as infiltrating their damn HQ. Man, I can’t believe its come down to this.”

“I think they must be recruiting from other cities. There have been a lot more around lately. Did you know they sent the chief in this time?”

“Yes, I knew. I was hoping that you could get some information from him before they got here.”

“The Goths are a small section, and now they are on the top of the most wanted list. A small respite for your Punks, but not much.”

“Come on, let’s go. They’ll be back to wipe the room soon.”

“Right. These are locked and secure.”

The two of them walked back to the still open door and walked through, appearing in a warehouse full of large crates and shelves of wholesale goods. The door closed behind them, and Elijah locked it quickly.

“About time you showed up. Thought they caught you back there.” Said another Goth, running up and hugging Elijah. Taylor laughed, and walked over to where Ree was sitting. Ree looked up from where she was sitting and smiled brightly despite her black eye shadow and lipstick.

“Are the other leaders here too?” He asked her, kissing her cheek lightly.

“Yeah, they’re here.” Was all she said, standing up to follow as Taylor turned and walked around a large crate.

Several others, dressed in various attire matching their respective groups, stood as he stepped around the corner. Behind them was a podium, and beyond that was gathered a great mass of people as looking as equally out of place as the few assembled on the stage. Taylor stepped forward and nodded to the others before taking the podium.

“Today is the day. The Smiles have grown increasingly desperate. It started out as a small movement, designed to eliminate all deviation within one town’s community. It has since spread across the world like a disease, and that town has become the base of operations for its continued existence. I’m talking about this town, our town. Seattle was the start of the Smiles, it will be the end of them. Today is the day that we take back our liberation. Today is the day that we tell them that happiness is not produced but sought. There has to be winners and losers. Don’t let those they've converted forcibly down now. They are not beyond hope. If we can establish our foothold here, at the center of the Smiles' operation, we can get them back. We can find away to reverse erasure. Stand up everyone. Make your voice heard. Take back your independence. Down with the Smiles, down with docile acceptance, down with forced happiness. Go forth now, and change the world!”

A great cheer rose up from the gathered crowd, and in similar staging areas around the city. Doors positioned around the area were flung open and deviants of every credo and appearance flooded out into the streets of Seattle. Taylor watched as they started out into the greatest battle ever to be fought. He turned with a sigh back to the leaders behind him.

“Do they really stand a chance?” Said Ree, folding him in her arms.

“I don’t know.”

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Time, time

We see it tick

It is a crime

We see the time

Are we fated

or consummated

to slowly die in time?

My, eyes

They see its death

Our debt of crime

We're taxed by time.

With eyes jaded

We're lacerated

by the whims of time.

My, sight

I see my death

By whims not mine,

But rather time's.


life eviscerated

Time will win in time.

say it aloud in a very sing song way.

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